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ams Osram: "late-blooming" VCSEL

Before entering the Apple iPhone X for the first time in 2017 and becoming the light source for 3D face recognition, VCSEL did not know that this was a turning point in rewriting its own life.

In 1977, Professor Iga of Tokyo Institute of Technology first proposed the concept of VCSEL.

VCSEL, Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser, referred to as Vertical Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser, is a semiconductor laser that emits laser light perpendicular to the substrate surface. Because the vertical cavity surface emits, it is also called surface-emitting laser. The laser beam It is circularly symmetrical.

The structure of VCSEL is somewhat similar to a "sandwich", mainly including multilayer Bragg reflectors (DBR) on the upper and lower bottom, conductive confinement region, active region and semiconductor substrate, etc. The laser beam exits along the direction perpendicular to the substrate, Its typical structure is shown in the figure below. The DBR on the upper and lower bottoms and the active region form the cavity of the laser, and the active region is an important part of the VCSEL.

VCSEL Structure
VCSEL Structure

VCSEL has many advantages such as fast modulation response, good beam quality, high efficiency, low power consumption, and easy integration with chips. However, due to the low output power of a single chip, VCSEL has been limited to short-term from the field of optical communications.

Later, the emergence of smart phones further shortened the distance between people and equipment, and VCSEL found more of its own stage.

In 2016, VCSELs replaced LEDs in proximity sensors in mobile phones. I believe everyone has such experience: When answering a call with a mobile phone, the screen will automatically turn off when it is close to the ear.

Behind this is the support of the proximity sensor module made of VCSEL chips - the low-power VCSEL chip emits laser light, and when an object approaches, it will automatically reflect the laser light, and the mobile phone can detect the approach of the object and judge whether the screen is off or on. Light up, which allows the mobile phone to minimize power consumption and reduce false touches during daily use, which is convenient for people to use.

Proximity sensing makes people feel the charm of VCSEL, but the phenomenon-level application that really makes VCSEL a hit is the 10th anniversary blockbuster product launched by Apple in 2017-iPhone X. Its release ushered in an explosion for the VCSEL chip industry type expansion.

As the power of VCSEL gradually increases with the development of technology, its downstream application fields continue to expand. The market has structural characteristics, and short-term support and long-term imagination coexist.

According to the annual "VCSEL Market and Technology Trends in 2022" report released by Yole Intelligence, the VCSEL market size is expected to reach about US$1.6 billion (approximately RMB 11.37 billion) in 2022, twice that of 2018.

VCSEL Market overview
VCSEL Market overview

According to the report, in the next five years, the overall VCSEL market will maintain a high-speed growth trend, or grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2%, and the market size will reach US$3.9 billion by 2027. .

It can also be seen from the above figure that in addition to mainstream markets such as consumer electronics and communications, industry and automobiles are becoming more promising scenarios for VCSEL applications. It can be said that VCSEL lasers are the key driving force for the rapid development of the 3D sensing and lidar markets.

Skyrocketing growth in e-commerce and logistics and heightened focus on workplace safety are driving the massive growth of the Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) market. Accurate and cost-effective 3D sensing and lidar technologies are essential to help AMR/AGV gain a broader perspective and rapidly advance the development of autonomous robotic vehicle navigation systems.

A manufacturing solutions provider with more than 260,000 employees, Jabil has manufactured the world's first ToF-based omnidirectional sensor that monitors 360 degrees around autonomous robotic vehicles.


In the design of this omnidirectional sensor, Jabil wants to detect all obstacles on the ground and in the air, so it needs to use high-power VCSELs to properly illuminate the surrounding environment. Bidos VCSEL products from ams Osram can meet its needs need.

Nanoscale response, obstacles can be detected in a very short time;

No need to bother with calibration, as Bidos VCSEL products provide a very repeatable pattern with no variation between all apertures...

In addition to logistics scenarios, in smart home and building automation, advanced access control and reliable monitoring solutions are crucial to ensure the safety of buildings and sensitive working environments. VCSEL technology from ams Osram supports identification through facial recognition Verification to ensure people can safely enter a building or company parking lot.

In fact, 3D face recognition authentication can not only significantly improve the convenience of access control, but also ensure a high level of security. , itself is a reliable key, this method brings unparalleled convenience to the access control of residential and commercial places.

With the increasing application of 3D sensing technology, emerging applications such as automotive lidar and cabin sensing have also become new positions for the development of VCSEL technology.

At the end of last year, blind-filling lidar further ignited VCSEL, and a variety of short-range solid-state lidars based on VCSEL technology were released, putting VCSEL under the spotlight again.

In addition to the automotive lidar market, in-cabin sensing is also the highlight of VCSEL applications, among which DMS (driver status monitoring system) and OMS (passenger status monitoring system) are the most industry-focused.

VCSELs used in Automotive and mobility applications
VCSELs used in Automotive and mobility applications

In recent years, DMS has emerged rapidly to ensure road safety and improve driving experience. Safety and autonomous driving are two of the biggest trends in mobility, supported by regulators such as the European Union and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which require automakers to use driver status monitoring systems. From 2023, Euro NCAP will also require direct DMS to achieve a 5-star safety rating.

And in addition to improving safety, DMS can also meet comfort-related needs, such as driver identification and verification, or adjust the augmented reality head-up display (HUD), so as to achieve a better driving experience. In addition, as the automatic driving function above L2+ is put into use, the steering wheel hand-off detection function becomes more and more important.

Occupant monitoring systems (OMS) are becoming indispensable as new safety standards related to vehicle occupants are introduced and vehicle autonomy increases.

It is worth noting that in addition to DMS driver status monitoring, the NCAP (New Car Collision Test) roadmap also includes occupant monitoring and child position monitoring functions, which can be used for seat belt status reminders, adaptive airbags, or remind parents The situation of children left in the car.

A range of applications using VCSEL technology is growing.

In terms of VCSEL, ams Osram can provide a wide range of VCSEL vertical cavity surface emitting laser product portfolios such as VCSEL laser chips, packages and modules to meet the requirements of automotive LiDAR, robot surrounding environment detection, and smart phone face recognition unlocking. Application requirements.

For example, in May last year, Melexis, the world's leading supplier of automotive semiconductors, announced that Osram, the world's leading supplier of optical solutions, has provided high-performance infrared laser flood illuminators for its latest automotive iToF products - the TARA2000-AUT series VCSEL.

This VCSEL not only has an integrated eye safety interlock function, but also is more compact in size than other VCSEL flood luminaires in the industry, which also enables more reliable and faster system response.

And not long ago in early June, ams Osram announced that it has upgraded this product and launched a new TARA2000-AUT-SAFE series VCSEL product, which provides more reliable and stronger human eye safety functions than the existing automotive VCSEL modules. At the same time, the combination of infrared laser modules for automotive interior sensing has been strengthened.

The newly launched TARA2000-AUT-SAFE produces a tightly controlled beam of infrared light at a peak wavelength of 940nm and is suitable for the same application scenarios as the existing TARA2000-AUT series: driver monitoring, gesture sensing and cabin monitoring, Improves reliability and simplifies design for automakers thanks to a new built-in interlock loop approach to eye safety.

It is reported that the TARA2000-AUT-SAFE series will be supplied in batches to a top ten automaker in the world starting in 2024.

This is just the beginning.

GEM optoelectronics provides ceramic submount and optical windows are used in VSCEL package.

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